By Tornike Kakalashvili
This article is the second part of a two-part series. The first part can be found here.
Pablo Broch Sebastià, 24, lives in Borriana, Eastern Spain. He studied Economics at the University of Valencia and is planning to continue his master studies abroad in the near future. When he was asked about what were the major problems of Spain, he answered that it depends on who you ask. For some people it’s radical feminism, political attitude, the economy or climate change, but for him it’s the polarization of his society.
“Right now politics are quite polarized in Spain. We don’t have center influence. Political parties are overrepresented. There are lots of voters who have neither right nor left-wing political affiliation, but just centrist ideas. Nonetheless they do not find political representation of center-wing politics. Consequently, ideas about everything: the way to manage the public funds, education policies, introduction of economic systems, the way to deal with climate change, feminism or inequality between poor and rich people, all of these issues are separated into far-left or far-right ideas”- He says.
Pablo tells us that the polarization is noticeable even in terms of football. “Football is a metaphor for Spanish society: You can be a fan of either ‘Real Madrid’ or ‘Barça’. After declaring your opinion you have to hate the other team. Generally, Spanish people hate the rival team as they hate other ideas,” he concludes.
Unemployment is a structural problem in Spain. There are large numbers of people who are unable to find a job. Mostly, it affects people over 40 years old and people like Pablo, under 30.
Pablo is unsatisfied with the education system in his country. “I have graduated from the university and I am not proud of what I have learnt so far,” he admits. He blames Spanish universities for being too focused on old-fashioned ideas.
“They do not live in the real world and they do not teach us the things that are relevant for me to work in a real job. They teach me things like how to be a manager of Amazon but it is not likely I will be a manager at Amazon. So, It is better to change the system and to teach me how to deal with much smaller companies in the private sector”.
He expresses the disaffection concerning teaching English at schools as well. Pablo claims that they have many unqualified English teachers in Spain and that is why it’s almost impossible to learn English at public schools.
When it comes to healthcare, he says it’s quite good, but not perfect. “Healthcare is free but it takes a lot of time to be seen. Some time ago, I broke my hip and I had to wait for three years to have a surgery. If there is something urgent you do not have to wait so long but if you have a health problem that you can endure, you just have to wait for an uncertain period”.
Here’s what Pablo thinks in regards to the separatist sentiments in Catalonia:
“We worry about Catalonia. Our family, friends are living there. In Catalonia there are a number of beautiful towns, magnificent food, great football teams… We are sad that people are fighting each other. It’s another example of polarization in Spain. Depending on which side you stand: you are a pro-independence or pro-unity supporter. And you have to fight against the other”.
For him another issue in his country is gender-inequality which is disguised as ‘feminism’. According to Pablo, there are laws in Spain that benefit only women.
“We have a gender law which states that if there is an attack against a woman by a man, it is considered a penal crime and the penalty is higher than if a woman attacks a man which is regarded as domestic violence for which the punishment is less severe. It is a problem of course. It is not equality of rights,” he says.
Pablo told us that when there is an assault against a woman, it becomes national news, but if a woman is violent towards a man, it is not as sensational.
He is also critical of an idea put forth by Carmen Calvo, the deputy prime-minister, who proposed that each consenting party sign a contract of consent before each sexual encounter. “It is a crazy idea for me. How can you make sure I have not forced my partner or that she has not forced me to sign that document?” Pablo questions.
András Kőrösi, 19, from Budapest recently graduated from high school and is now enjoying a gap year while preparing to enroll in the university. He names “huge corruption” as his country’s number-one problem. András says that it is preventing the country from developing. He blames all political parties for “stealing lots of money.” András assesses it as “a big unfair game”.
“Due to the corruption and the ‘feudal’ system, you can’t really start an enterprise. Of course officially you can, but anti-business economic policies make it hard in reality. The government unofficially does not support and protect proprietorships. These are the reasons why some companies and entrepreneurs from different countries do not want to come to Hungary for a business,” he says.
There are no start-up opportunities for young people to join at the ground level.
András is dissatisfied with the state of the medical system in Hungary. “Maybe the problem is not as big as in other countries from the East, but it is still unsolved”.
He says generally the hospitals don’t have enough machines to work with. “In addition, they do not put high-quality medicines in ambulances because it’s expensive (about 350-360 Euros). So they use the cheaper ones (about 50-60 Euros) and as a result those medicines have side effects and it can’t reduce pain instantly”.
Doctors in Hungary have low salaries. “The payment is based on doctor’s qualification and specialization, but mostly they earn 1000 Euro per month, which is really low in comparison with Germany for instance. There it’s 5000-6000 Euro per month. That’s why many doctors are leaving the country. Additionally, doctors are overworked and stressed,” András emphasizes.
The education system is another topic which András worries about. The government plans to impose regulation which requires all students to have B2 level knowledge in a particular foreign language to be enrolled at the university. “It is a big problem for young people because nearly 40% have no B2 level knowledge”.
Apart from that, teachers have really low salaries. András says teacher’s salaries are growing but not enough, so they have to do other jobs alongside teaching to earn a living.
One of the major problems in Hungary is that the new generation thinks completely differently about almost everything from the older one. The issue of migration isn’t an exception. “The old generation believes that we should not open our country to migrants. According to them most of them are quite rude and not suitable for our country. They are saying that our culture and the way of life will change due to migration, in addition their argument is that there would be the problem of integration. And young people think completely differently from them about this topic. They are much more liberal and open-minded.” András says.
The ruling FIDESZ party is not popular among the youngsters. In 2017 a new political party, Momentum Movement, was created and it became quite attractive among the Hungarian youth. But as András says it does not have much influence on the recent political agenda.
Illustration: Johanna Hagström
Tornike Kakalashvili is studying Journalism and Political science at the University of Georgia in Tbilisi. Currently he is serving as a Young European Ambassador from Georgia to the EU neighbours east for the fourth consecutive year. For a semester Tornike was studying the European studies as an Erasmus student at the Sapienza University of Rome, Italy. In addition, he was an ESC volunteer in Leszno, Poland working for the local NGO in the field of non-formal education and intercultural dialogue. Tornike is passionate about international developments and acquiring foreign languages.